Right now, it’s just a few hours until Joe Biden is inaugurated as president of the United States.
My to-do list is short:
I’m spending today cleaning the house, putting all the odds and ends away, because, to me, the new year starts Jan. 20, 2021.
It’s been a long four years. I don’t remember what I did during Trump’s inauguration, but I know for certain I didn’t watch. Most likely, I was freaking the fuck out.
Since then, we’ve lived through what seemed like endless days of the scary-ass Trump presidency — and far too many of us didn’t survive. We’ve struggled through the crashing Trump economy and a Republican Senate that saw little political upside to helping small business owners, workers, and families suffering through the financial trauma of this pandemic.
We overcame our fears of an impending Gestapo-like state and still put our names on social media posts, petitions, and online articles calling for a resistance to Trump and his fascist agenda.
We sought out like-minded people in our communities — not just people who despised everything Trump stood for, but people who were willing and eager to do something to stop him.
We joined the new democratic groups that were being created by the professional activists and those who were learning on the fly, like Indivisible and DemCast and Black Voters Matter. Some of us surprised ourselves and became leaders.
We read books with titles like “How Democracies Die” and “On Tyranny” and “What We Do Now” to figure out how to fight the rising tide that wanted to sweep our form of government out to sea.
We wrote letters to our Democratic representatives, visited their offices — at home and in Washington — attended town halls, and marched at protests. In calls to government officials, we often cried, yelled, made demands, and thanked them.
We ran for office.
We organized, sent postcards, knocked on doors, donated money, got blocked on social media, (and women argued with mansplainers, and, let’s face it, most of us are women), all to ensure that Democrats took back the House and returned a measure of accountability to our government.
We defended those among us who were targeted because of the color of their skin or their religion or their sheer vulnerability, but we also acknowledged that we have much more work to do.
We built and embraced digital activism because we weren’t going to cede any gains, present and future, just because of a global pandemic.
We fought against all sorts of voter suppression, like robocalls spreading lies, the deliberate slowdown of the USPS, and armed militants showing up at the polls, ensuring that more than 81 million voters cast their ballot for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
And on Nov. 7, four days after the election, the last media holdouts affirmed that Biden and Harris had won the election, spurring a collective exhale of the nation and leading to champagne bottles popping all around the country and impromptu street dance parties.
No one is going to sugarcoat the past few months since Biden’s win. We’ve cycled through stages of anxiety, even people who rarely pay attention to the day-to-day vagaries of politics. I have had to talk several friends off the ledge.
And on Jan. 6, we watched in horror as crowds of right-wing militants sent by Trump attempted to take over our government and quite probably assassinate our leaders. This coup took place on a day that should have been another celebration after two Democrats — a Black reverend and a 33-year-old Jew — were elected in the Georgia Senate runoffs.
It’s been almost two weeks since the chaos in our Capitol. Since then, I’ve heard many dire predictions and gloomy prognostications that we can expect continued violent confrontations with right-wing extremists for the next decade or that we may lose to more accomplished fascist candidates than Trump in the next elections. I get that. But if nothing else, Jan. 6 exposed exactly what has been happening on the other side of the aisle. Republicans now must make the choice of whether they side with insurrection and destruction of our democracy. Already thousands of Republicans have changed their voter registration. And best of all, Trump will be gone, leaving hours before his successor takes office in a fit of childish pique. The fumigators and exorcists will arrive and do their thing, and then we will finally have a real president in the People’s House once again.
So instead of worrying about what comes next, I’m going to stick with celebration. Our problems will not magically disappear on Thursday, but we have everything we need to solve them and I’m going to keep working to create the country I know we can be.
We won the presidency.
We won the House.
We won the Senate.
I’m cleaning my house to have a fresh start for this new era. And drinking champagne.
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